So, you know how I mentioned in my last post that I was nervous about running the Great Race? I totally downplayed just how freaked out I was. Friday night I was getting really worked up and thinking that I should just not go. Especially after we drove from around Frick Park to downtown on the way home from a relative’s house and I thought, “This is really faaarrrr. Shit. It took us awhile to drive this distance. What kind of crazy person runs this?” Saturday I was home by myself most of the day, which was good in the sense that the husband and the kid didn’t have to be subjected to my panic, but bad in the sense that I really got down on myself.
I’m not going to be able to finish. Everyone there is going to be a serious runner since it’s a longer distance. I’m going to collapse on the side of the road in tears by mile 2.
I had only gone the full 10k distance once on a treadmill and I had had to walk and stop quite a few times. I was not at all confident that I would be able to go the full distance on the road and the controlled environment of my gym.
But Sunday morning came around and I found myself lined up with about 5,000 other people in Frick Park. I nervously stretched and danced around to keep warm and reasoned with myself.
If I have to walk a little bit, I’m not going to get upset about it. I will finish this.
The starting gun went off and we slowly funneled our way to the start line. It took me about five minutes to finally get there. As I started running, it seemed like absolutely everyone was flying past me. I kept feeling my legs trying to speed up to catch up with them, but I kept telling myself, “You can’t keep up with them and that’s okay. You need to just keep going at a pace you can maintain.”
I felt like I was going pretty slow, but I had put together an awesome playlist that was the perfect tempo to keep me at a reasonable pace. I was surprised to see the first mile marker since it didn’t seem like we had gone that far. When we got to Carnegie Mellon, the second mile marker appeared and I was not ready to collapse. I knew that the halfway point would be smack in the middle of the Pitt campus and if I could make it that far, I would take a walking break if I really needed to.
Close to the halfway point, it started to rain and I realized that I was feeling pretty good and might actually run the whole way. I was wearing the hat that had come in our race packets, and I was so glad that I did since it kept the rain off of my face. I also used it to prevent myself from looking too far ahead and getting worried about how much farther I had to go. Instead I looked at the feet of the people in front of me and matched their steps to the beats of my music. It was kind of hypnotic.
I missed the 4-mile marker entirely, but looked up when we got close to Duquesne because a band was outside cheering everyone on. There was a guy on the other side of the road shouting and cheering and letting us know that we were at mile 5 and only had a little over 1 mile to go.
Mile 5? Whoa, this is almost over.
I also knew that we were past all of the hills and it would be downhill and then flat the rest of the way. At that point, I realized that I could totally make it the rest of the way running.
So I did. I just kept going.
The rain started coming down harder and I laughed when “Just the Two of Us” by Bill Withers started playing in my earphones.
“I see the crystal raindrops fall and the beauty of it all…”
I guess the proverbial runner’s high was kicking in. I felt great and proud of myself and everyone else that was splashing toward the finish line with me. I couldn’t believe how willing my body was to continue. At the Great Race 5k last year and during practically every run between then and now, I had let my brain tell me how I was too heavy to run so far and that I couldn’t finish without walking some. But here I was, just doing the damn thing.
Point State Park finally came into view and I literally could not believe it when I saw the finish line. I ran through and trotted into the muddy area where everyone was meeting up and wolfing down water and bananas.
My legs felt like they were vibrating and when my mom found me I could tell that my eyes were wide and that I was babbling that I had ran the whole time.
I don’t think I can even begin to explain how excited I was to achieve such a goal, even though I was pretty sure I wouldn’t be able to. I think I’ll let my soggy grin tell that story.
P.S. The title of this post comes from one of my running playlist mainstays, “Running Up that Hill” by Kate Bush: